Friday, November 13, 2009

Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a Bagel

I have to tell ya, I thought this day was going to be a nice, smooth Friday. Things started out all sorts of great, with me getting a free bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel from McDonald's this morning.

How? Because I was in attendance last night to watch the Flyers beat the Senators 5-1. And the Flyers brass and McDonald's, being the generous fellows that they are, teamed up for a promotion where when the Flyers score four or more goals, anyone in attendance is entitled to a free bacon, egg and cheese breakfast at any McDonald's in the area the next day. Naturally, I took advantage of that.

As far as the game goes, man, that was one of the most boring 5-1 games I've ever witnessed, and it was quite possibly the worst first period in the history of first periods as far as excitement goes. Both teams came out flat, but the Flyers were clearly the more deflated team. Ottawa spent most of the first period in the Flyers zone getting shots blocked, while the Flyers made a few counter rushes and little else. There was just no energy, and it was awful hockey. No one scored, and there were only a total of nine shots in the first 20 minutes, with the Senators getting five on their former goaltender Ray Emery and the Flyers managing just four shots on Pascal "I Spell My Last Name Differently than John" Leclaire. It was a snoozer.

Thankfully, things picked up in the 2nd period, though it took a while. Neither team was crisp in the first 10 minutes of the second either, missing on passes, making sloppy clears and really generating no sustained pressure either way. Though Blair Betts, who is quickly approaching the status as one of my favorite players on the team, did get things going with a smart hustle play. Chris Pronger sent a puck down the ice on the power play that went went right next to Leclaire. Leclaire looked as though he was afraid to touch it as it drew near for fear of touching it behind the goal line and outside the trapezoid. Betts made a b-line for the puck, got there, and saw Leclaire a bit off-balance and upright, so he just banked it off him and in for his first goal as a Flyer to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

It was a heady play to say the least, and it seemed to bring some life into the building and the game. I have to say, for a guy who spent the last four years as a Ranger, I'm becoming a huge Blair Betts fan. I always knew he was a good defensive player and a thorn in the Flyers' side in New York, but I never truly realized just how good he is. In his absence, the Flyers were a little bit inconsistent. Since he's returned from his injury, the Flyers have taken off, and I don't think that's a coincidence.

Betts is exactly the type of player this team was missing last season. He's a third/fourth line center who can win faceoffs and match up with any top forwards in the league. He plays tremendous defensive hockey, staying disciplined and in position, really helping out the defensemen. And he's an excellent penalty killer, which is a pretty big deal when last season the Flyers relied on two of their stars, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, to man a lot of penalty kill time. Having Betts, along with Ian Laperriere, has relieved the pressure on Richards and Carter. Those two have combined to form a dynamic penalty kill unit, saving Richards and Carter from getting too much ice time and potentially wearing down, as they did somewhat last season. And that line of Betts, Lapperriere and Dan Carcillo has been arguably the best and most consistent line for the Flyers the past two weeks. That's saying something considering the talent and depth this team has.

I didn't really take notice and laud the Flyers for acquiring Betts and Laperriere this offseason. In fact, I sort of questioned the addition of Laperriere, given that he has a tendency to rack up penalty minutes and is an older player (though I was pleased with adding Betts), and the fact that the Flyers could have made a run at bringing Scottie Upshall back, a fan favorite who actually signed for less money than Laperriere did and is much, much younger. But damn, the Flyers knew what they were doing. Laperriere has been a rock for the team this year, doing a little bit of everything, and Betts has thoroughly impressed me as well. Great additions, the both of them, and that line is really something to watch.

The Sens did answer that goal about five minutes later on the power play on a pretty sick goal at a tough angle on the backhand by Mike Fisher. It was at the other end of the ice, so I didn't get a great look, but it looked like a shot Emery should have stopped. Still, great play by Fisher.

But from there, it was pretty much all Flyers. In the first period, I mentioned how I thought the Carter-Briere-van Riemsdyk line looked pretty bad and flat, with the exception of JVR, who looked like he had some jump in his skates. To me, it looked as though both Briere and Carter were a step slow and a hair off in everything they were doing. They quickly corrected that late in the 2nd, as Kimmo Timonen sent the puck in, Carter went and retrieved it, made a great pass to van Riemsdyk, who had an open net to shoot at and didn't miss to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead with another power play goal.

It was his fourth goal of the season, and the more I watch of JVR, the harder it is for me to believe this kid is just a 20-year-old rookie. Not once this season has he looked overmatched or overwhelmed. He uses his size and strength surprisingly well for a player who is still developing, winning many a battle along the boards, and you have to think that part of his game will only get better as he matures and fills out even more the next few years. That's a scary thought. He has tremendous drive, a very nice scoring touch and excellent ice vision. He's certainly wasting no time showing why he was such a high draft pick. It's exciting to know as Richards and Carter become veterans, JVR and Claude Giroux are right on their tails as future stars.

That late-period goal seemed to get that line going and the Flyers as a whole, who turned it up a notch in the 3rd. Seven minutes in, Briere batted a puck out of the air off a Jeff Carter shot and into the back of the net (with assists from Timonen and Carter yet again). It was a beaut, and it pretty much put the game away.

The Flyers were all over the Sens in the 3rd, taking complete control of the game. They outshot them 13-8 to finish with a 27-23 advantage in the shots department. And they added two more goals, both of which were beauties. Darroll Powe scored his fifth goal of the year by ripping a laser by Leclaire and securing the crowd their bacon, egg and cheeses. And Briere added to his and his line's excellent final two periods, firing an absolutely perfect, unstoppable shot right underneath the far elbow. It was honestly a perfect shot. No goalie alive would have been able to stop it.

That had to really feel good for Briere. Since signing a big free-agent deal with Philadelphia, Briere has been hounded and labeled as a bust, mainly because he has sustained some injuries that have put him on the shelf for a long period of time. In all honesty, it's a bit unfair to Briere, but that comes with the territory when you are a big free agent with big expectations, coming to a franchise that has Cup aspirations. But truth be told, when Briere is healthy and is playing, he's worth every penny. He makes the players around him better, and as he showed last night, he has that scorer's touch that's impossible to teach. It's never a bad thing to have Briere in the lineup. The Flyers are unquestionably a better team when he's around.

All in all, that set me up for a tremendous little Friday. The bacon, egg and cheese got things off on the right foot. Then I came to work. The elevators were stuck, with people stuck inside mind you, and I had to walk up 12 flights of stairs. No big deal, right? Wrong. Apparently, I'm in horrible shape, because by the 7th floor, my legs were burning, literally fatiguing to the point that I had to slow down and go one step at a time. And the farther I went, the harder it became to breathe. It was embarrassing. I'm 25 years old. I exercise regularly, try to play sports as often as possible. Twelve flights of stairs should not be so difficult. I may to need work on that.

To add to that, the door was locked when I got there, so I had to bang on it until someone heard it and let me in. Then I got word that pretty much all hell is breaking loose with our December project. I should have known things couldn't just go smoothly on Friday the 13th. Shame on me for thinking otherwise.

But hey, free bacon, egg and cheese! Is it 5 yet?

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. I still hate that the Rangers let Betts go, worst of all to those fuckers in Philly!!!! Good move glen another winner there. And now look the Rangers are down 2 centers and now can't win a fuckin faceoff cause of it. Betts wouild vacuum up those faceoffs and we'd still be good shape, Glen ur really starting to piss me off here. But i still say the Rangers will prevail and finish ahead of those orange caution cones down in Philly and make some noise in the playoffs. Michael Del Zotto if fuckin king shit up here now.

  2. Au contrair. The Flyers have way, WAY more depth than the Rangers, and now that their defense is adjusted to playing together, they're all sorts of good too. Though the Rangers certainly have the better goalie. So there's that.

    Thanks for not re-signing Betts.

  3. Exactly my son, we have the WAY better goalie. Emery is the new T.O. in Philly at some point he will have a melt down. Possibly against the rangers after Avery gets through with him. and the will be the beginning of the end of the Flyers. We may lack some of the depth that you have, but when you can't stop Gaborik and he lites that ass up for a trick and 3 assists and Prospal tosses in a goal or 2, it's game over for them.

    on the Betts note-eat me!

  4. If my memory serves me, the Rangers haven't done dick even with Lundqvist in the playoffs, because they suck and he's a choke artist. And everyone knows Gaborik will be out for the year by February. It's science.